1993 Hallmark Article from Strange New Worlds

Source: strangenewworlds.com

Strange New Worlds was a science fiction collectors magazine published from 1992 through 1994, providing original articles, interviews, and news for science fiction collectors. This is a reprint of an article from Strange New Worlds Issue 10 – Oct/Nov 1993.

The Star Fleet of Hallmark
by Kevin Stevens

In 1991 Hallmark Cards produced the first in a series of Star Trek Keepsake Ornaments in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the television series. The Starship Enterprise ornament was unveiled in July 1991. The finely detailed ornament blinking red and green lights on the saucer section was a beautiful recreation of the classic starship.

By August, Hallmark found that demand for this particular ornament was overwhelming; it appealed both to collectors of Keepsake Ornaments as well as Star Trek fans and collectors. The Enterprise proved to be the most popular ornament made by Hallmark since the Keepsake Ornament line was introduced in 1973.

By October 1991, Hallmark made the unprecedented decision to go back into production with the Enterprise ornament. Still, by December these supplies of ornaments were also depleted. It immediately began climbing in value on the secondary market. By June 1992 collectible dealers were advertising the $20 ornament for anywhere from $50 to as high as $125. Prices would climb higher still.

In 1992, Hallmark, wishing to repeat its success with the Starship Enterprise, produced a second Keepsake Ornament: the Shuttlecraft Galileo. This lighted ornament included a voice chip featuring the voice of Mr. Spock. By pushing a button, collectors could hear Spock wishing all a happy holiday. Anticipating a repeat of the response to their Enterprise ornament, Hallmark produced the Galileo in greater numbers. Retailing for $24, this ornament was so available to retailers that demand never exceeded supply.

Fans and collectors bought the Galileo in quantity. Hallmark heavily advertised the ornaments in science fiction and Star Trek publications. This exposure, combined with the increased production numbers, meant that fans interested in obtaining the ornament were able to do so easily at retail prices. A year later, collectors can find the Shuttlecraft Galileo ornament for between $35 and $40.

However, because many more fans obtained the second ornament in the series, the demand grew to complete the set by finding the Enterprise ornament. Fans were now hungry for it. Prices for the Starship Enterprise ornament climbed to $175, eventually topping out at about $250. One dealer at a Los Angeles area Star Trek convention had priced the ornament at $400. Prices for this piece have since stabilized at about $200.

Although the Galileo ornament never achieved the collectibility status of the first ornament, a counter display promoting the ornament has become collectible. The display featured a plastic globe recreating a moon with the Galileo ornament orbiting above it. A button at the base of the display allowed shoppers to hear the greeting from Mr. Spock. This display, which included a cardboard back with advertising information about the ornament, has gone on to the secondary marketplace, with prices from $75 to $150.

For 1993, Hallmark has released the third in the series of Star Trek ornaments: the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701D from Star Trek: The Next Generation. As with the first Enterprise ornament, this keepsake piece features blinking lights. No voice chip is included.

Hallmark announced that it would scale back production for the 1993 ornament, making the newest ornament a more promising collectible than the Galileo. Early reports from Hallmark Gold Crown Stores (retailers for the ornaments) bear this out. Stores that began receiving the ornaments in August have been sent only half their anticipated orders, making demand high from collectors. Even those who pre-ordered have had to wait for back orders to be received.

It remains to be seen how production numbers for the new ornament will stack up as the holiday season approaches. During the holiday season, collectors should anticipate increased prices for the earlier ornaments. If the pattern established in 1992 holds true, prices may spike again, but should stabilize in the new year.

Regardless of the fluctuating prices and collector frenzy, these ornaments remain among the most beautiful, and highly collectible, Star Trek items produced in recent years.

Kevin Stevens is editor of Trek Collector, a bimonthly newsletter for Star Trek fans and collectors. He has been a Star Trek collector since 1972. His collection was featured recently on Los Angeles’ Fox TV news station KTTV. 

Back issues of Strange New Worlds available here.

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